Football: Gee-Gees dismiss Gary Etcheverry, now must undo the damage done to a proud program

Gary Etcheverry's final days as Ottawa Gee-Gees head football coach were like a Friday Night Lights episode with special guest director Federico Fellini.

The past week's drama, which took another turn with the firing of Etcheverry (hate to have called it), is only the symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. Know that much. The Gee-Gees senior players — here one thinks of centre Shavin Fernando, linebackers Tyler Sawyer and Trevor Seal and QB Aaron Colbon, who only needed a near-mutiny before he was allowed to throw 30 passes in a game this season — are the true empathetic figures. Some of the holdovers who helped Ottawa come within seconds of the Yates Cup in 2010 are going out on a lame-duck season with Ottawa last in the OUA at 0-5.

Even Etcheverry is somewhat of an empathetic figure. His irrational insistence that the double wing could work at the CIS level was bizarre. It was comic fodder to other head coaches in Ontario. But this is what happens with the way uOttawa, under director of sport services Luc Gélineau, does its business. Until they increase the support for the program, recruitment and retention are going to be recurring problems. The below passage from Canada Football Chat says it all:

Ottawa has had trouble attracting good candidates (and holding on to coaches - JP Asselin) because of the lack of financial support and competitive coaching salary levels as compared to other OUA/CIS teams. The new Carleton Ravens have already exposed some of Ottawa's issues, hiring 3 former Gee-Gees coaches in the last 4 months (J.P. Asselin, Chris Coulson, Josh Sacobie).

Please commit that to memory before anyone starts joking that Etcheverry won't have to worry about having to interview for a CIS position again any time soon (never say never at this level of sport!). It's a uOttawa story more than it is about a journeyman coach with a blind spot about what works in theory and what works in an actual application. The last fews day have been more of a boiling over from off-field turmoil that dates back across the past 4-5 seasons.

The question is whether Ottawa can undo the damage while Carleton is hitting the ground running. There is no reason Ottawa shouldn't be a strong program. The early indication is it will have former star O-lineman Naim El-Far serve as a general manager Does this firm up the resolve to make football a flagship program, pay the going rate for to attract and keep good coaches, and so on?

Ottawa's been a successful team over the years, but its next head coach will be its 13th since Don Gilbert guided the legendary 1975 Gee-Gees to the Vanier Cup. Laurier, Queen's and Western, all generally successful Ontario programs, have had 10 head coaches combined in the same period. That buttresses the belief there is some dry rot in the system.
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1 comment:

  1. We have a problem with the AD taking a week off in the middle of the football season and when almost all varsities sports are in full stride...